Thursday, October 23, 2008


Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 6:22 PM

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In New Orleans it sounds like a joke, but there really is a diploma in wine.  And as living proof, I am currently a diploma candidate at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London.  They offer a two-year program to develop product knowledge to a specialist level and the diploma can also be used as the prerequisite for a Master of Wine (of which there are only 277 worldwide).  The course is incredibly interesting - as well as challenging and  tedious.


(Stick with it! Wine & book recommendations after the jump)


Among other things, there is quite a bit of reading involved.  The two first books to polish off are Oxford Companion to Wine - an 848-page tome of all things even vaguely wine related and Understanding Wine Technology which is a book by a chemist about the chemistry of wine.   What chemistry is there in wine?  Well, did you know that wine had to be stabilized?  What about clarified?  Did you know that common fining agents are egg white, gelatine from bones or isinglass from sturgeon?    It was while struggling through

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Understanding Wine Technology on a recent flight that I actually became engaged in the subject of wine on a much deeper level than ever before.   There are tons of books written about wine, but most of them approach it from either a regional specification like The Great Wines of Burgundy or from a beginner's standpoint like Red Wine for Dummies.  Both of those are great books, but it is good to see books for the wine drinker with a thirst for more knowledge.


If you are the kind of person who is really interested in what it takes to make wine - what the chemical equations are,  what filtering is,  what wood maturation does - this  is the book for you.  Let me be absolutely clear:  This is NOT a book for everyone but if you have an advanced level of curiosity and even if you do not know your Sauvignon Blanc from your Cabernet Sauvignon,  you will gain a great deal out of reading this book.  It is strangely compelling and easily read considering it was written by a chemist who is also a Master of Wine.


In the meantime, I have a great wine for you to drink with dinner and wax poetic about measuring the density of your favorite wine.



click to enlarge roots run deep Educated Guess
Educated Guess is produced by Roots Run Deep winery in Yountville, Ca. which is in Napa Valley.  They source grapes from two vineyards, one of which is 100% organically grown.  The wine is made at the Napa Wine Company and is made to be characteristic of a Napa Valley Cabernet while remaining affordable.


2006 Educated Guess is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot.  It is an oak-heavy, rich and ripe red wine with black cherry and chocolate and a hint of mint.


This is a tight and rich California red so it will be a great wine to pair with heavy autumnal dishes - especially with red meat or braised pork or game dishes.    If you have the ability it could also stand to be stored for a couple of years.   If not, let it breathe in wine glasses for 30 minutes before drinking.  It is reasonably priced for what it is and it retails for about $20 a bottle.



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